My lovely friend Bunny Lovell, over at Books with Bunny, reviewed Geek Girl by Holly Smale as a recommended teen/YA read recently. You can read her review, here. My eleven year old daughter read the first in the series over half term recently, and recommended it to me. I felt that with two people I love saying it was just my sort of thing, I really ought to give it a go.
I finished it yesterday.
I did enjoy it. My daughter said it reminded her of Louise Rennison’s excellent series about Georgia Nicolson, which starts with Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging, a series which I devoured and which made me cry with laughter.
I could see flashes of Rennison in Geek Girl, but it is not as laugh out loud funny. It reminded me more of a series that Meg Cabot (author of Princess Diaries) wrote about fashion modelling, which I really didn’t like at all. Geek Girl is a kind of mash up between that and the Rennison books, but funnier than Cabot and with a nicer message.
Harriet is an out and out geek. She is awkward, and uncomfortable, and has precisely one friend and one geeky, unthreatening stalker. Her life at school is made miserable by Alexa, a girl who has always delighted in ridiculing her and making her unhappy. Despite this, Harriet manages, until the day her best friend Nat insists that she come on a textiles trip with her to Clothes Show Live. Nat is hoping to be spotted as a model, her life’s dream.
Instead, it is Harriet who is spotted by a modelling agency. THE modelling agency, and whose life is transformed over night.
The great thing about this book is that the transformation is not very smooth, nor always very positive, and the author is at great pains throughout to puncture the belief any readers might have that modelling is in any way glamorous or perfect. Harriet has a rough ride in the world of high fashion, and a rougher ride at home and school until she figures out exactly how to be comfortable in her own skin.
The basic plot is fairly predictable, and has a smattering of teen angst, a pinch of romance and a lot of finding yourself, but it is handled in a fairly fresh and engaging way which makes the book easy to read, and enjoyable. I particularly loved the character of Wilbur, who is the go to guy at the modelling agency.
There are several books in the series, and I will be reading the next book. I do need to see what happens.
Recommended for teenage girls, aged 11 and up. Although Harriet, the heroine, is fifteen, there is nothing here to prevent younger girls reading the book as the romance is fairly tame and mostly dogged by misadventure which means the most excitingly physical things get is a bit of hand holding and a kiss on the final page.